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So you’ve finally written your book — well done! As writers, we know that countless hours, blood, sweat and tears have gone into completing it. Unfortunately, your hard work isn’t quite finished yet. Instead, a new task begins: promoting your book.
If you don’t get enough publicity, you run the risk of poor sales and your new book being forgotten. This is heartbreaking to go through, especially when you’ve already invested so much of your life in a project.
Whether you’re self-publishing or going down the traditional publishing route, you need to drum up interest in your book. Social media is an extremely powerful and relatively inexpensive way to engage with both your existing readers and new ones. But how exactly do you go about doing that?
We’ve taken inspiration from the great Bard himself: William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was eloquent, entertaining and innovative — qualities every author should embody when promoting their new novel on social media.
Below, we tell you how to become a social media Shakespeare when it comes to promoting your book online. Read on to find out more.
Recommended reading: Best Practices for Indie Publishing Part 2: Distribution
Plan a social media marketing strategy
“Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.”
– The Merry Wives of Windsor
Shakespeare knew the importance of planning and being first to market — essential for anyone starting with their online promotional plan.
First, you need to come up with a strategy to promote your book. How are you going to promote it? What are you going to post? When are you going to post?
Think about your written content, as well as accompanying visuals. Social media posts should generally be short and snappy to quickly engage with the reader and convey all the essential information before they lose interest.
To be as effective as possible, you should map out a content calendar, with a timeline leading up to — and past — the release of your book. This will help you to schedule social content in advance; fill in the calendar with “what” and “when” of the different posts you are going to publish.
Don’t be afraid to keep posting. You’re promoting your book: you want as many people as possible to see your posts so post frequently. Try to come up with different posts, but don’t worry about repetition; if your posts are a month apart, your audience probably won’t even notice.
To borrow from Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor: “better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” It’s always best to be prepared and to set marketing goals early rather than do all of your promotion last minute and miss hitting the mark. If you have a long lead-up to the release of your book, you can tweak your social media marketing and rectify mistakes without jeopardizing your book’s success.
Target your audience
“Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.”
― Much Ado About Nothing
The bard knew more than anyone that just like the course of real love does not always run smooth, people are motivated by different things.
To plan an effective marketing strategy, you also need to identify your market — establish who you’re aiming your book at (you’ll probably already have a clear idea of this), and how they can be reached.
Different demographics hang out on different social media platforms. To successfully target your book’s audience, you need to aim for the right social channels. For example, if you’ve written a YA novel, head to Instagram and Facebook to promote your book. If your book is targeted at business professionals, then make the most of LinkedIn.
You also need to take into consideration the time that you post content: when is your promotional post going to be most effective? When are your followers online? Time is another important factor for visibility.
Optimizing your posting times will give you maximum visibility and help you reach the widest audience possible.
Build relationships within your community
“Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.”
–Romeo and Juliet
Building relationships with others in your community is something you can do before you’ve even published your book. Forging meaningful connections will provide you with support and exposure as you promote your book online.
For example, if you’re a crime fiction writer, reach out to other crime fiction writers, publishers, critics, and influencers in your niche. Follow them on social media, start dialogues, and engage in conversation. Make a name for yourself as an author and a voice, not just in reference to your book. This is particularly useful if you’re planning to self publish — building relationships within your community helps to nudge readers in the right direction. People will start to engage with your opinions and contributions, and then begin to research you and your novel — heading over to Amazon, where they can buy it with just a few clicks.
Aim to be friendly, open and engaging — you want to build natural, authentic relationships. Come on too strong or plug your own book too much and you will appear too salesy or desperate.
As said in Romeo and Juliet, “go wisely and slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.” Don’t run around trying to recruit social media friends — respect and loyalty will grow over time, so be patient and take your time to form organic connections.
Involve your readers with user-generated content
“Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.”
User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful way of including readers on your journey and building a community around your books.
Leverage your existing readers and fans. Ask them to take photos of themselves with your new book and tag you on social media. You can then feature photos on your own profile or page, broadcasting them out to your followers too.
Stick to a specific hashtag: one that is memorable and relevant to your title so that it can be easily found. It’s a great method of spreading knowledge of your book to your reader’s friends and followers, as well as your own.
You can also include readers throughout the development of your book; ask for their opinion on cover design decisions or favorite recipes, release tiny teasers, and update them on your writing progress. Host Facebook Live Q&A sessions or Twitter chats. Your fans will feel valued and involved by you, and will be more inclined to shout about your work and see you succeed. As the Bard himself wrote in Twelfth Night, “love sought is good, but given unsought is better.”
Pair strong content with striking imagery
“[Thou] mad mustachio purple-hued maltworms!”
― Henry IV: Part 1
Shakespeare was all about painting vivid pictures with his words — he had no choice — but we reckon the Bard would be down with the latest visual trends if he was around right now.
Social media platforms are all highly visual now, so your accompanying images need to be powerful and captivating too. By using the right imagery, your book can end up instantly recognizable and memorable.
You can also use your visuals on social media to elicit emotion and feeling in your readers. If your new book is a summer sizzler, make your image one of a turquoise sea underneath a scorching sun. You want the viewer to pause as they scroll through their social media feed — to be transported to a sandy beach and a balmy evening when they gaze upon your social media post.
This is easy enough to do, but how you do it depends on your budget. If you’re strapped for cash, but you’ve got a good eye for aesthetics and a decent camera, you can take photos yourself. Alternatively, you can use a free stock image site to pick up a high-quality, royalty-free photo. You can add your own unique edits and color schemes with an easy-to-use design tool.
If you’ve got some money to splash, you could hire a photographer and graphic designer to suit your needs. It won’t be cheap, but it’ll be a solid investment if you can get your image to stick in people’s heads and make them buy your book.
Set up competitions and giveaways
“Thou wouldst as soon go kindle fire with snow as seek to quench the fire of love with words.”
― Two Gentlemen of Verona
People can’t get enough of freebies — especially on social media. It’s got built-in shareability and instant attraction. You’re not going to quench people’s love of freebies anytime soon!
Social media giveaways are a surefire way to generate some interest around your new book.
You need to decide on a few specifics (prize, cut-off point, who can enter), but the concept is relatively simple. Entice intrigued consumers in with the chance to win a free copy of your book if they share your post or perform a specific task. By the end of it, you’ve managed to reach more people and generate engagement through shares, likes, and tagging.
Of course, you still want to be profitable, so don’t host too many of these. And when you do, be sure to include a link to your Amazon product page, website or online store with an additional promotional line.
The key to social media is not to be too salesy. You want to promote your book without too much aggressive promotion. Everything should be as organic, authentic and fun as possible. Be as light as
Follow these tips and you’ll soon become a social media Shakespeare and promote your book to success.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit the blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, content, ecommerce, and charity insights from the planet’s top writers. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.